Tory gay marriage plans are 'pure politics' – Bradshaw
Government plans to allow same-sex couples to get married are "pure politics", says Ben Bradshaw, one of Britain's first openly gay MPs.
The Exeter MP dismissed the controversial proposals, saying Britain's gay community did not need the word "marriage".
Mr Bradshaw, who is in a civil partnership, told the Washington Post: "This is more of David Cameron trying to drag the Conservatives kicking and screaming into the modern world."
The former Labour minister said the party would support the move.
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But he added: "This is pure politics on their part. This isn't a priority for the gay community, which already won equal rights with civil partnerships.
"We've never needed the word 'marriage', and all it's done now is get a bunch of bishops hot under the collar."
In a statement on the Exeter Labour website expanding on the argument, he added: "We already have gay marriage. It's called civil partnership.
"That groundbreaking legislation passed by the Labour government conferred on same-sex couples exactly the same rights enjoyed by married couples.
"Tens of thousands of people have entered into a civil partnership. In my experience, and I declare an interest as one of them, most of these people feel married.
"They call themselves married, so do their friends and relatives who attended their 'weddings'. They do not feel their civil partnership is inferior or unequal to their friends' marriages."
A 12-week consultation on allowing gay couples in England and Wales to marry is ongoing.
A petition on the Downing Street website, launched by the Coalition for Marriage (C4M), which supports keeping the institution of marriage between husbands and wives, has now surpassed the 400,000 mark.
The proposals have already attracted widespread criticism from a number of quarters, including a number of prominent backbench Conservative MPs.
Those dissenting voices were joined a week ago by MEP Giles Chichester, who represents the Tory Party in Brussels, who warned that legalising same-sex marriage would prompt a grassroots party revolt.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Chichester wrote: "Should this measure go through, it will cause many Conservatives to question their loyalty to a party which is no longer supporting values inherent to the party."